Known for its laid-back, hippy vibe, Pai is a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Most hostels in Chiang Mai can get you set up with a ticket for a mini-bus; some travelers brave the many, many hills, twists, and turns by renting a scooter as well. I was in Pai for 3 days which proved the perfect amount to fit in everything I wanted to see, but there are a lot of people who fall in love with Pai and never leave. I can’t say I was that enamored, though I did enjoy the relaxed feel and yummy street food.
I have stayed in hostels a handful of times and have always had pleasant experiences. The people I met were nice. The accommodations, while sometimes sparse, were doable. The facilities were clean. Until…December 14, 2016.
On this day, I was faced with the worst hostel I could imagine (well, minus the horror movie type), at Common Grounds, in Pai, Thailand. I knew from the second I walked in that I was not going to be happy there. Reluctantly, I paid $18 for the three nights I’d signed up for (hey, it had good reviews online!).
Walking past the many stoners hanging out on beanbags in the outdoor verandah, the staff led me to my room: a 4-bed room with an in-room bathroom. The room was shabby, and I had flashes of bedbugs in my mind. As I was unpacking, I heard many other patrons being led to their rooms and one piece of instruction was a little different than what I’d gotten:
With five days in Chiang Mai, there’s plenty to do to keep you happy, full, and having fun.
As most Asian cities promise, there are all sorts of markets in Chiang Mai. The Saturday market and Sunday market offer delicious and inexpensive street food, as well as cheap souvenir shopping. Both can get super packed, so go early!
A hidden giant gem is the Wararot Market. While there are markets all over Chiang Mai on Google maps, choose this one for every single item you could ever want. From scarves and backpacks to spices and kitchenware, you can find it all at super cheap prices. This market runs during the day; at night you can catch the food stall vendors. There’s no need to buy an expensive dinner at a restaurant when there’s a market around.